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Akyaka hopes to become a 'slow city'

AKYAKA, Muğla - Anatolia News Agency | 2/15/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Following the footsteps of İzmir’s Seferihisar district, another small town in the Aegean region has set it sights on being declared a 'slow city,' or cittaslow.

Following in the footsteps of İzmir’s Seferihisar district, another small town in the Aegean region has set it sights on being declared a “slow city,” or cittaslow.

Seferihisar, located approximately 50 kilometers west of the center of İzmir, became Turkey’s first “slow city” last October following a cittaslow international coordination committee meeting held in Italy.

Cittaslow is a movement founded in Italy in 1999 that aims to improve the quality of life in towns while resisting “the fast-lane, homogenized world so often seen in other cities throughout the world.”

Akyaka Mayor Ahmet Çalca, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said the district wants to become a cittaslow with the aim of creating a town that respects nature, preserves its architectural structure and focuses on sustainable ecological tourism.

Çalca said the municipality has started the process for becoming a member of the Cittaslow International Committee. “First of all, a working party bringing together municipal officials and Akyaka municipal assembly members has been established, said the mayor. “That group has prepared materials such as booklets and posters and has launched a Web site to promote Akyaka. The final decision to apply for cittaslow network membership will be made after a public vote in March.”

Before the decision, the residents of Akyaka will be informed on the issue and will be given the chance to discuss the process, said Çalca. “The locals can access information through the booklets and our Web site, as well as the public meetings we have been organizing,” he said. “Our aim is to acknowledge the unique nature, culture, history and arts in Akyaka together.”

Akyaka is a coastal district, situated at the far end of the Gulf of Gökova, at the start of the fertile Gökova plain. The district has a population of just over 2,000, but the number dramatically increases during the summer season.

Akyaka was the location of the historic city of Idyma and has remains reaching back to at least the 4th century B.C. when it was founded as a Carian city. The Idyma urban zone may have extended from the immediate east of Akyaka to the village of Kozlukuyu, three kilometers away. The acropolis, 200 meters of city walls and several rock tombs are located along a steep climb 600 meters above sea level. The acropolis was explored by the French archaeologist Louis Robert in 1937.

Çalca said Akyaka is a perfect example of preserving a town’s character without harming the environment. The district can be a world-renowned brand if this success is approved and takes on the cittaslow title, he said.

“The cittaslow movement is a project that helps towns promote themselves while preserving their identity and lifestyle,” said Çalca. “We are happy to see the ‘Akyaka vision’ that we prepared with contributions from locals has many similarities with the slow city concept.”

The similarities will help Akyaka in the process, said Çalca. “We already have a ‘slow city’ here. All we need is international recognition,” said the mayor. “We hope to have a world-renowned boutique holiday resort.”

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[HH] What is a cittaslow?

Cittaslow is a movement founded in Italy in October 1999. The inspiration of Cittaslow was the Slow Food organization, which works against the fast food culture.

The Cittaslow organization defines itself as a growing international network of over 120 towns in 18 countries across the world having adopted a set of common goals and principles to enhance the quality of life for their residents and visitors.

In simple terms, Cittaslow towns aim to be great places to live, work and visit. They aim to support local businesses, foster local traditions, protect the environment, welcome visitors and encourage active participation in community life.

Each Cittaslow town commits to working toward a set of more than 50 goals and principles aiming to improve quality of life. These goals and principles provide tangible benchmarks against which a town can measure its progress and act as a mechanism to bring local people from all walks of life together to work collectively for the good of their town.

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